National Sections of the L5I:

Turkey: Solidarity with the HDP!

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The ban on the only left-wing opposition party in the Turkish parliament, the HDP (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, Peoples' Democratic Party), was rejected once again by the Constitutional Court on 31 March because of formal errors. But postponed is not cancelled. For months, Erdogan's increasingly undisguised dictatorship has been intensifying its attacks on all democratic movements, on the working class and especially on the HDP and the oppressed Kurdish nation.

Week after week, opposition activists are arrested. For example, in one week, over 100 students were arrested for protesting against the rector appointed by Erdogan at their university.

Since the beginning of this year, the right-wing and conservative ruling parties, AKP or MHP, have been calling for the banning of the HDP and the lifting of the immunity of its MPs almost daily in debates. About a fortnight ago, an application to ban the HDP was submitted to the Constitutional Court by the Prosecutor General, Bekir Sahin, but it was rejected for the time being.

What is happening in Turkey right now?
The application itself did not come as a surprise to many. Following the trial on the immunity waiver of an HDP parliamentary deputy, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioglu, the General Prosecutor's Office of the Court of Cassation officially submitted a request to the Constitutional Court to ban the HDP for good.

From its foundation, the party aimed to give a voice to leftist, feminist, ecological and social movements and organisations, including, above all, Kurds. Despite its petty-bourgeois reformist programme and policies, the HDP, as the second largest opposition party in the Turkish parliament, operated in a deeply hostile environment. Its very existence is a thorn in the side of the majority. Since almost the beginning of the year, the far-right MHP, led by its leader Devlet Bahçeli, has been calling for the HDP to be banned. In February, 700 HDP politicians were briefly arrested.

Since 1990, several parties, mainly pro-Kurdish, have been banned after electoral successes. Here is just a short list:

- HEP, People's Labour Party, founded on 07 June 1990; banned in July 1993, after the parliamentary elections.

- ÖZDEP, founded in May 1993; the party was banned on 23 November 1993.

- Democratic Labour Party (DEP): 6 MPs stripped of their immunity in March 1994 and imprisoned for 15 years; DEP banned in June 1994.

- HADEP founded in May 1994, won 37 municipalities in 1999 local elections; banned in March 2003

- November 2005 DTP formed; after winning 22 seats in parliament and 100 municipalities, the party was banned on 11 December 2009.

The HDP was founded in 2012 and thus clearly carries the history, but also the persecution, of the previous parties on its shoulders. Even after its entry into the Turkish parliament in 2015, several thousand HDP politicians were imprisoned on the flimsy and mendacious charge of terrorism. The election victory represented a new starting point for many and triggered a huge euphoria among the left, Kurdish, feminist forces in Turkey. If we look at the situation today, however, we have to recognise that masses of MPs are imprisoned, all the mayors have been forcibly deposed and any left organisation is denigrated and criminalised with the accusation of terror.

Crisis, agitation, resistance

The fact that Turkey is increasingly developing into an open dictatorship is nothing new. Human rights violations, wars against international law, racist and nationalist policies against the Kurdish population are just a few examples. The deep economic crisis and the raging pandemic dramatically worsen the situation of the working class, but also of the petty bourgeoisie and the middle classes. Nationalist, anti-Kurdish, misogynist agitation and attacks are meant to distract from the real causes of these problems and at the same time to legitimise dictatorial measures and the further restriction of the remaining vestiges of bourgeois-democratic rights in the name of Order, Nation and Islam.

The political project of the ruling party AKP and its coalition partner MHP, to render the HDP politically mute and powerless and to ban it before the parliamentary elections in 2023, is gaining momentum in this context. Even if the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the HDP on 31 March, that is, against its banning, it will certainly not be the last blow against the opposition, which is hardly capable of political activity anyway. It is increasingly being pushed into illegality. What Turkey needs now is not just isolated protests by students' or women's organisations, who took to the streets to draw attention to the ever-increasing number of femicides and to demonstrate against the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention against Violence against Women.

The protests are an important step in the right direction and must be supported with all our strength. But what we need now is a movement acting together, based on the working class, mobilising the mass of wage earners. Among them are many who can hardly afford anything because the lira is losing more and more of its purchasing power. For example, the inflation rate was 15.18% in 2019 and 11.94% in 2020. The lira continues to lose value against the euro and one euro is currently equivalent to 9.46 lira. The wage is barely enough for many to survive. The lower strata of the working class as well as women and youth are particularly hard hit.

Only if it is possible to link the struggles for the Kurds' right to national self-determination, for democratic rights and for women's rights, as well as other social movements, with the struggle of the working class, can the Erdogan regime be brought down. Of course, this also requires learning from the political weaknesses of the HDP, which combines a left petty-bourgeois party of the oppressed and a party of social reform.

Ultimately, however, only the working class can develop a social force to overthrow not only Erdogan and the AKP, but also Turkish capitalism, which cannot exist without the super-exploitation of large sections of the working class, without national division and oppression. This is why even a party like the HDP cannot be accepted by the ruling class. In order to connect the wage-earners and the oppressed masses, in order to connect the social and economic struggles with those for democratic rights, a revolutionary party of the working class based on a programme of permanent revolution in Turkey and the whole region, is needed.

Today, when the HPD is attacked and threatened with being banned, it shows that the Turkish state wants to atomise, even smash, any organisation of the oppressed, the left, the Kurdish nation. The attack on the HDP is an attack on all leftists, the women's movement and all those who resist oppression and exploitation!

All organisations of the workers' movement, all left parties and trade unions, all left and democratic forces in the world must therefore show solidarity with the HDP.

This means organising solidarity demonstrations and rallies. It also means standing up in countries like Germany or in the EU for the immediate lifting of the ban on the PKK and all other Kurdish and left Turkish organisations.